My Elegant Solution…

by Jack


I have decided to publish my solution to Forrest’s poem. Rather than printing several pages of text, I used Power Point to create a video. It seems to me that might be a more entertaining way of viewing it.  The thing that seems to have perplexed us all over the last six years is how this simple 6 stanza poem could lead to a very specific location in the Rockies without codes or ciphers but with confirmation that it is correct.  Like any work of art or music, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That is what Forrest meant when he said you have to see the big picture.  I see it as elegance. Albert Einstein said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

The video is just short of an hour long so if you are interested, grab a cup of coffee or your favorite adult beverage and spend an hour seeing what I found. I hope you find it informative and entertaining. The preface to the video is below as well as the link:
This video is about an hour long not because of the complexity of Forrest Fenn’s poem, but because of the elegance of it. Forrest says he spent 15 years working and reworking the poem to get it just right.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Fenn’s short poem of 24 lines and 6 stanzas is both simple and complex. It is the very definition of elegance and perfection. It seems to describe a multitude of places in the Rocky Mountains, yet when solved as I see it, it points to only one specific place. Caveat: my family and I have made two separate trips with four searches to the location you will see but we do not have the chest. Nevertheless, I think you will find both the approach to solving the poem and the location itself compelling and unique.
First and foremost, the poem is a puzzle. It contains hints and clues on how to unlock the puzzle. Once unlocked, it leads to the location. The first part of the video describes the method of solving the puzzle and seeing how Fenn constructed it. I am confident that it is mostly correct. The second part takes us to the location.

The solution to the puzzle is actually rather simple. Explaining how the puzzle is constructed takes some time, hence the length of the video. The poem is telling two stories. One is the obvious story of Forrest Fenn hiding his treasure. The second story is cleverly hidden in plain sight in the poem. That is the thrill of the chase for an archeologist – discovering the unique story of a place. That is what he wants to share with us: “I became sick and thought I was on my way out and I wanted to inspire others to join in the thrill of the chase.”

Click HERE to see the video


47 thoughts on “My Elegant Solution…

  1. “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

    WOW! Who knew…….I have a perfect bank account. 🙂

  2. Had been doing some research on a a Bronze Foundry located on “Otto Road” in Santa Fe. Quite a story; Otto Mears! Fascinated me.

    Thanks for bringing the story to light, Jack! Am in awe of a job well done.


  3. That was very good. I do think you identified one thing needed to come to the final solution. I really like the use of the Power Point— helped with the flow of the interpretation. I am always amazed at how different people using the same words come to such different conclusions. It is truly mind-blowing. Thanks for sharing that!

  4. Thanks for posting Jack,

    A lot of thought and effort went in to your production. Several adult drinks later, I finished the show and appreciate your efforts. Good luck in your searching.

  5. Lots of research here Jack – wow! Confused about why the poem is consistently quoted incorrectly as “the end is ever drawing nigh” when it is actually “the end is drawing ever nigh”. Also, why wouldn’t Forrest want you to go there in the winter? Snow and mud don’t seem like they would affect this place much. Incredibly interesting reasoning though.

    • Camille,
      Jack has the quote right it is “the end is ever drawing nigh”.
      Second, Forrest would never want Jack to go there in the winter. In fact, Forrest has clearly said “to shut off you engines and find a warm spot to wait” ( may not be exactly the right words on the end). But Forrest has asked everyone not to search during the winter as chances of being hurt or worse go way up in the winter. Forrest says to wait until spring.
      best of luck and be safe

  6. Camille– it is “the end is ever drawing nigh”. You can read the poem right on this blog.

  7. Hey Jack… nice (and long) description of your thought process. I don’t want to cause a foible, but you broke the cardinal rule. You messed with Forrest’s poem. When watching the video of you putting it in grid form, you took out all spaces and punctuation. That’s a no-no 🙂

    • I disagree that using the grid changes the poem. The poem is a puzzle to be solved. The grid is a tool or puzzle technique. For example, if you were working a crossword puzzle and the clue was “Frank McCourt Pulitzer novel”, the answer would be “Angela’s Ashes.” It would be written in the puzzle grid as “angelasashes” with no spaces or punctuation. You solved the clue but you didn’t change the title of the book.

      It is interesting that if you use the grid and begin at the only place that can be confirmed where warm waters halt – the “s” in waters, the word “so” appears going both up and down from the “s”.

        • Jack, the poem is not a crossword puzzle. I know that realization will crater your entire solve but that’s not the way it works. Trust me…there are other ways to get a lot of information from the poem and the handful of hints in the book. Get off of the grid wagon…you have the brains to figure it out but not using a grid….wait…..grid…griddle…sounds like paddle…oh, I guess you might just have something there….So I was wrong…err, I mean So was right…oh, I am so confused…

  8. You have done well, Jack. I too have worked with “As I”, and the solstices. You have “worked” the poem, some will argue that you “forced” the solution. I will disagree. You gathered clues together and together they make sense. You listened good. You didn’t find Indulgence, so there must be a glitch somewhere.

    I just hope this solve doesn’t lead to desecration and grave digging. Please remember, ” it isn’t in a graveyard….”

  9. WOW ! Jack after all that I’m sure glad you suggested an adult beverage or two or… I’ll bet Mr. Fenn is thinking darn why didn’t I think of that. All that effort and no chest, what a bummer dude.

  10. Jack~

    That was an interesting narrative of Chief Ouray and Chipeta as related to the poem. I also was thinking what Afana wrote…, Fenn thinking, why didn’t I think of that. Your solution has so many connections to the poem but, as others have said, you messed with the poem. Also, I believe that the word Uncompahgre means “hot water spring” not, warm waters.

    And, by your logic and example the word “if” would be the blaze, not “so”.

    So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that “if” followed precisely.

    So “if” is followed precisely. Meaning to follow the word “if”. Like, in “what if.”

    I don’t believe “if” is the blaze, just giving an example.

    But, still, I must say that I truly enjoyed reading your solution while sipping on my Martini. Thanks for posting your thoughts and hard work into the chase.

  11. The poem has to somehow lead to a geographical location. If there are no codes or ciphers in the poem, then how does it do it? Boiled down to its simplest idea, I think Forrest wrote it as a canon – a specific type of canon called a round with two voices singing the same song telling two stories with the same words. One new and one old. It is something a child or his “unemployed redneck” would get. Think of “Row Row Your Boat” or “Three Blind Mice”. You do not need to know anything about TS Eliot or musical composition to understand what a “round” is. IMO the circle imagery he uses in the book, specifically in “My Spanish Toy Factory” and in some of his statements are hints as to how to solve the clues in the poem.

    So then the key is to discover who is the second voice? To do that you have to find “where to start” – where does the second voice start? The question in stanza 5 is where to start. It is marked by the blaze, the word that is key, “So”. It is the question that Ouray must have asked when the people of Colorado were demanding “The Utes must go!”.

    What I found intriguing about the location is the similarity of Chipeta’s grave to the graveyard drawing in the book, the frog statue in the pond and the peace pole. Also it is located at the end of Otto Mear’s Rainbow Route.

    • Yes, I’m not saying it’s there where you ended up, but clues fit. Ok, wwwh starts as “hot springs” , but halts when the Utes are defeated here. Look at the cross in the background of her grave, the same cross is tilted in the illustration in f’s book. Tilted, maybe to call attention to itself.

      Oh wait, never mind. It’s in YNP! Everybody go there!

    • This was also my solve; there was gold also that was buried with Chief Ouray, but when he was re-buried, the gold was missing. I think he was buried in a cave on the side of a mountain.

  12. You had me there for a little while & agree with circular architecture in a different way.
    I think you relied to heavily on T.S. Elliot quote.
    When you went to the grid, I know Forrest would also have to have at least one grid to create the puzzle & I don’t think he used any grid system at all.
    I think you may have stretched some things to your liking but most of us do this anyway.
    Thanks for sharing, overall some good points & some bad & it’s nice to take a look inside others minds & obviously no one has found the treasure so your solve is as good or bad as any of ours.

    BTW, There is nothing elegant about a grid.

  13. I am S + peach+less…I’m going to Grand Junction too!

    But you didn’t follow any clues precisely…you made up your clues, not using your imagination but with a whole bunch of knowledge and assumptions. You went from a grid to the poem to the book to the illustrations and back to the poem, and in between did a whole bunch of research on the Utes.

    So when you find it using this logic, we will all say “My God! Why didn’t I think of that?” No, we won’t say that because we could never come to your solution because your solution belongs only to you. Or the maintenance guy at the Ute Park has already found it while he was mowing the lawn.

    Nice work on the presentation though. Some music would have been nice IMO…

  14. Holy Moly Jack, wow I’m impressed great job. I can’t believe you found a 45 in the Stars. The picture of that frog, lol wow.
    Thank u for sharing your solve. As we traveled thru Colorado I saw a sign that said meeker massacre I had to look that up and read about it, what a sad story.
    Isn’t it awesome to have a resolution. 🙂

  15. Interesting work on the poem Jack! It piqued my interest. You showed the linear view and the circular view points but then only used a linear line of thinking through the poem lines. You anagrammed 1 line to give info about utes and then ran with it. Why only that line to anagram? What about the bird in the moon? Isn’t that Forrest’s bird Minerva? I liked the drawing from book matching your picture of the location. I’ve found the bombed out bunker drawing and another from the poem close to it. Keep up good work!

  16. Hey Jack,
    I don’t now where to even begin. 1st.) It would of been fantastic if there was some type of music (Indian) playing softly in the background. 2nd) Your thought process was extraordinary but I have to agree with some of the others. I do feel that you messed with the poem when you placed it in the grid. I have done that and as soon as I looked at what I had done my wife said to me “doesn’t the way you took out everything mess with the poem” I had to agree with her. As Forrest said about his poem “he used the capital letters and the punctuation just the way he wanted it to be. By setting it in a grid and removing all the spaces and punctuation you messed with the poem. Just like Forrest warned Phil about not using all of the words at his own risk so it would be the same as removing all that you did. That being said, I’ll stop and say to you, A Job Well Done. Don’t give up as it sounds like you found out you are staying around for a while longer,, you could go over it and see where you could possibly make changes if you would make them at all. Great research and follow through. Your solve, as far as I’m concerned, is up there with some of the best solves shown to date. Continue on Sir, you have a lot to offer…
    Best of luck and be safe,

  17. Thank you for sharing your thought processes in this solve. Very compelling with the two stories being told. This is way above my pay geade though. Would never have been able to look at the poem this way. Gives me another way to consider. A grid? I’ve really got to get out and do so walking and thinking about this one. Thanks again. Wish all would share this way. IMHO.

  18. I don’t fee that the grid as central to my solution. I only see it as just one more confirmation as to the correct place to start which is the question in stanza 5. You can take the grid idea away and I still feel the solution stands on its own as two stories being told and the identity of the second person is revealed by the question which is a response to the slogan The Utes must go.

  19. I can see that mine is the wrong strain.
    Perhaps the percentages need to alter.
    Staying with just one puff or two
    Has caused my solution to falter.

    • WOW is right. I stand amazed. Don’t know about “a few flaws, ” to me it seemed right on the money.

  20. I finally got a chance to watch your video. It was brilliant! Your solution was interesting. Some things don’t add up for me but I commend you on your work.

  21. Jack,

    I want to say “Thank You” I love your solve and I love the information you have brought forward from your research! Your solve is very Romantic and thought out! Fits a time line I have been looking at from 1988-2003.

  22. While I am new to this hunt, I have viewed several Youtube analysis and none captured my imagination like this. Love the layered messages and interpretation of the clues. Never been north of Santa Fe except on interstate roads going somewhere else. Your video did get me reading on Piute/Ute Indian issues with the miners, settlers, farmers and Army. Before this I never heard of Chipeta or Ouray. Now I am hungry to get more into that time. Doubt I will be on the ground but mayybe I can help spread the word and someone will get caught up in the Thrill if not the Treasure. Thanks, Jack and Forrest.
    Dan Panda

  23. Headache. It’s the telltale sign I get when someone has failed his solve by forgetting one HUGE DETAIL: all you need is the map and the poem (and maybe the Fenn books). I couldn’t even watch the whole thing. Your solve suggests you need to be familiar with spanish, Native American folklore, T.S. Elliot and shoot you even managed to fit and old greek philosopher in there??? You also messed with the poem alot, which was disappointing.

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